Sunday, March 25, 2007

Essential Self-Defense

There's plenty of stuff that's wrong in Adam Rapp's new play, currently at the Playwrights Horizons complex in a co-production with Edge Theatre Company: it's far too long, all characters other than the main pair are underwritten, and most of the metaphors Rapp employs are hardly subtle. However, there's quite a lot to write home about. Certainly, no one could be unhappy watching Paul Sparks and Heather Goldenhersh embody a goofy, socially-challenged almost-couple. The way that the author has written it calls for two performers steeped in eccentricity and awkwardness, and this duo deliver the goods in spades: Sparks' price-of-admission worthy vocal inflections recall a cross between Professor Frink from The Simpsons and Jerry Lewis on acid, while Goldenhersh is eerily reminiscent of a young and disturbed Amanda Plummer. They fascinate even when the play doesn't. My friend Patrick compared Rapp's style here to Dennis Potter, which I think is most adept; I can almost hear Bob Hoskins crooning "Pennies From Heaven" on the playwright's TV while he sat at his laptop. Still, as far as original American plays go, this is one of the better ones in New York at present. While I cannot wholeheartedly give it an unequivocal rave, I can certainly tell my readers to give it a prominent position on their "to see" lists.


Patrick Lee said...

If not Pennies from Heaven then Xanadu ;)

I had a tough time using my flex pass to see it a second time, so I imagine that tickets might be scarce, but here's that discount offer link anyway; it expires in two days.

Cameron said...

It looked like all seats were taken last night, which is usually odd for a Sunday evening show. Isherwood and a few other critics were there; I couldn't tell if he was enjoying it or not, given that he's an extremely hard person to read. Also in the audience: Jayne Houdyshell and Pablo Schreiber.

I used the under-30 discount and got a great seat in the second row. :)